My Experience As A Jamaican Freelance Writer

This post was written by Melissa Talbert, a good friend of mine and someone who has experience as a freelance writer in Jamaica.

Hi, I’m Melissa and I am a Jamaican freelance writer

Believe it or not, my journey as a Jamaican freelance writer began with a story. There I was in a website design class. Listening to my lecturer who at the time was infamously known for going off-topic with irrelevant stories he thought would be helpful to the lesson in some way. In true fashion, he diverted and began telling us a story about his college years. He proudly told us (the class) how working as a freelancer was beneficial to him as a struggling college student.

To be honest, I’m rarely ever impressed with his stories, but this one was inspiring. Particularly because he made starting out as a freelancer look achievable— which it is. In his story, he mentioned: Upwork, an email address and WiFi. And for me, that was all it took to start my freelance journey. Oh and a good story!

Joel Nomdarkham | The Jamaican freelance writer guide (2020)
photo by Shaquiel Brooks

The mindset needed to be a freelance writer

I knew right away what mindset I needed to have if I wanted to be a freelancer. But then I figured out I truly had no idea. I only found out once I actually started freelancing. Every job I ever got (and didn’t get) required different qualities of me. For example: for some jobs, I had to be fast-paced because I had a deadline and a deathly word limit to meet. Other times, I needed to be patient since getting jobs was sometimes a slow and depressing process. Many times I was unable to depend on my mind because I was so sleep-deprived.

But it’s safe going in knowing that it won’t be easy and it will have you all over the place emotionally. Still, nothing beats helping a client accomplish a task and doing what you love. It’s satisfying.

Job hunting as a Jamaican freelance writer

I’ve only used Upwork to find jobs. The platform has countless opportunities for writers. More importantly a good amount of the jobs are legitimate and certified by Upwork. This made me trust the platform even more and as a result remained faithful to it during my time as a freelancer. Because of Upwork, I can say I’ve worked internationally since they harbour clients from all over the world. It’s also a helpful site. It’s constantly giving tips on how to improve your profile and even on how to write a proposal for when you’re ready to go job hunting.

But I’m sure there are many other websites for freelancers out there. I recommend spending time trying to find the one for you.

Pricing my work as a Jamaican freelance writer

Pricing your work is necessary because it shows how much you value your articles.

Though I had $15 an hour on my Upwork profile, I only worked with clients that offered a fixed rate. Not because I wanted to but because they were the ones hiring me. Usually, a writer’s pay would vary depending on the number of pages, deadline, type of paper and academic level. But mine didn’t vary— it was fixed. And I didn’t mind.

In my freelancing days, income wasn’t a major factor for me because I was very inexperienced. Still, I trusted my employers to pay me what I deserved. I more so looked forward to learning from their critiques. As a bright-eyed college girl ready to take on the world, I was eager to start writing no matter what was being offered. I didn’t mind starting small at all.

Marketing my work as a Jamaican freelance writer

When I was a freelancer, I blogged mostly.

Thankfully I didn’t have to worry about promoting my work because they were posted to my employer’s website at the end of the day.

My employers already had mighty followings and strong viewer retention which meant a lot of people would read what I wrote. Sadly, if it were up to my social platforms alone, promoting my blogs would be challenging since my work would have limited eyes on them.

Final Thoughts

My time as a Jamaican freelance writer was short-lived. It didn’t last long because I didn’t have the support and encouragement of others— it was an extremely lonely time.

So I guess my final thought is: it’s not for everybody.

Related: My Graphic Design Toolkit: 11 Tools I use daily as a graphic designer

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